USAF

A-1 E Skyraider Attack Plane

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider first flew in 1945 and began deliveries in 1946. Designed by Ed Heinemann, the Skyraider was continually improved over its 12 year production run. 3,180 Skyraiders were delivered to the Navy, many of which were used during the Korean War. Nicknamed "Spad", after the famous French WWI fighter, the Skyraider gradually became a piston engine, propeller driven anachronism in an age of fast jets. However, with its fifteen hard points, excellent low speed maneuverability, large ordnance load, considerable combat radius and good loiter time the Skyraider remained an excellent ground attack plane. In 1963, the U.S. Air Force began a program to modify the AD-5 Skyraider for service in Vietnam and redesignated it the A-1E. The Skyraider was armed with four 20 mm  M2 cannons  and could carry 8,000 lbs. of ordnance on 15 external hard points. The Skyraider went through seven major versions and a host of minor ones. It was used as a torpedo bomber, attack plane, dive bomber, ECM platform, target tow and AEW plane. The A-1 was flown by the USN, USAF, USMC, Royal Navy, French Air Force, Cambodian Air Force, Central African Republic, Chad Air Force, Gabon Air Force and Vietnam Air Force. This model shows an A-1 E Skyraider flying with the USAF during the Vietnam War.

Douglas A-1 E Skyraider Attack Plane

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A-7 D Corsair II Attack Plane

The LTV A-7 Corsair II is a carrier and land based subsonic attack aircraft introduced to replace several navy and air force fighter bombers in the late 1960s. The Corsair II was based on the supersonic F-8 Crusader carrier fighter and was the first U.S. aircraft to have a head up display. The YA-7 A made its first flight on September 27, 1965 and entered service late in 1966 and began combat operation over Vietnam in 1967. The USAF ordered a modified version of the USN s A-7 with a fixed refueling receptacle more powerful engine, avionics upgrades and a M61 Vulcan 20 mm cannon. The Corsair II was continually upgraded throughout it’s production run which ended in 1984 with a total of 1,569 aircraft. The last A-7's in U.S. operation were retired in 1993 after successfully supporting Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During Desert Storm, the A-7 demonstrated over 95% operational readiness and did not miss a single combat sortie. The A-7 Corsair II was armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon and could carry 15,000 lbs of ordinance on 6 hard points and 2 fuselage pylons for AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs. The Corsair II was flown by the USAF, USN, Hellenic Air Force, Portuguese Air Force and the Royal Thailand Navy Air Arm. This model shows an USAF A-7 D Corsair II flying during Desert Storm.

LTV A-7 D Corsair II Attack Plane

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A-37 A Dragonfly Attack Plane

In 1962, the US Air Force’s Special Air Warfare Center decided to evaluate the T-37 trainer as a future Counter Insurgency light attack aircraft. The T-37 Tweet had been in continuous service with the US Air Force since 1957 and had amassed an excellent service reliability history. Two T-37Bs were tested. Flight testing showed that the new aircraft could be safely flown at weights up to 14,000 pounds, which allowed for the carriage of a wide variety of weapons. In 1966 Cessna was contracted to convert 39 T-37B trainers right off the assembly line, and delivery of the new aircraft, now called the A-37 A Dragonfly, began in May 1967. In addition to larger engines, the aircraft was equipped with eight under wing hard points and wingtip tanks. The B-model had air-refueling capability, a 7.62 Gatling Minigun in the nose, gun cameras, and armor protection for the pilots. This prototype was first flown in September 1967 and deliveries began in May 1968. In addition to service with the US Air Force, the A-37 was supplied to the South Vietnamese Air Force and the US Air National Guard, where it remained in service into the early 1990s. A total of 577 A-37s were built. By the end of the Vietnam war the Dragonfly had flown over 160,000 combat sorties with only 22 losses. The A-37 was flown by the USAF, Chilean Air Force, Colombian Air Force, Dominican Air Force, Ecuadorian Air Force, El Salvador Air Force, Guatemalan Air Force, Honduran Air Force, Peruvian Air Force, South Korean Air Force, Vietnam Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force, Uruguayan Air Force and the Vietnam People's Air Force. The A-37 Dragonfly was armed with one 7.62 mm GAU-2B/A nose mounted minigun and could carry 2,700 lbs of ordinance on 8 hard points.

Cessna A-37 Dragonfly Attack Plane

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B-52 C Stratofortress Heavy Bomber

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long range strategic bomber that first flew in 1952 and replaced the B-36 and the B-47. Entering service in 1955 the B-52 has served as the United States main strategic bomber for 57 years throughout its service the B-52 has carried almost every weapon in the US inventory from nuclear weapons to missiles to conventional bombs to guided bombs. The B-52 was heavily used in the Vietnam War and was even credited with shooting down two enemy MiG-21 fighters. The B-52 was the main bomber in the airborne alert system, flying mission 24 hours a day 7 days a week until the end of the cold war in 1991. The USAF continues to employ the B-52 because it remains an effective heavy bomber, particularly for the type of conflicts conducted since the end of the Cold War against nations with limited air defense capabilities. The B-52's capacity to linger for long times over battlefields delivering precision standoff and direct fire munitions has been a valuable asset. The B-52 has the highest mission capable rate of the three US heavy bombers at 80%. 744 B-52s were built and 94 H models are still in service, the remainder have either been retired or broken up under the terms of the SALT treaties. The B-52 is the second plane in history to mark 50 years service with it’s original operator and is expected to still be in service until at least 2040. This model shows a B-52 C in the early 1960s.

Boeing B-52 C Stratofortress Heavy Bomber

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B-52 H Stratofortress Heavy Bomber

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long range strategic bomber that first flew in 1952 and replaced the B-36 and the B-47. Entering service in 1955 the B-52 has served as the United States main strategic bomber for 57 years throughout its service the B-52 has carried almost every weapon in the US inventory from nuclear weapons to missiles to conventional bombs to guided bombs. The B-52 was heavily used in the Vietnam War and was even credited with shooting down two enemy MiG-21 fighters. The B-52 was the main bomber in the airborne alert system, flying mission 24 hours a day 7 days a week until the end of the cold war in 1991. The USAF continues to employ the B-52 because it remains an effective heavy bomber, particularly for the type of conflicts conducted since the end of the Cold War against nations with limited air defense capabilities. The B-52's capacity to linger for long times over battlefields delivering precision standoff and direct fire munitions has been a valuable asset. The B-52 has the highest mission capable rate of the three US heavy bombers at 80%. 744 B-52s were built and 94 H models are still in service, the remainder have either been retired or broken up under the terms of the SALT treaties. The B-52 is the second plane in history to mark 50 years service with it’s original operator and is expected to still be in service until at least 2040. This model shows a B-52 H armed with Hound Dog missiles of the 2nd Bombardment Wing in the mid 1960s.

AGM-28 Hound Dog

The AGM-28 Hound Dog missile was the first air launched nuclear stand off missile deployed by the  United States. Developed in 1956 and first flying in April 1959, the  Hound Dog entered service in December 1959. The Hound Dog was carried by B-52 Stratofortress bombers that were fitted with large under wing  pylons to launch the missile. The Hound Dog's fuel tanks could be topped up from the B-52's own fuel supply, and during takeoff its engines  could be used as auxiliary booster engines for the bomber. The missile's inertial navigation system could be used as a backup system for  determining the aircraft's position. The Hound Dog was powered by a 7500 lb thrust Pratt & Whitney J-52-P-3 turbojet giving a speed of Mach  2.1 and a range of 700 miles. It was armed with a 1.1 megaton  thermonuclear warhead. 700 Hound Dogs were produced and they were  retired in 1976.

Boeing B-52 H Stratofortress Heavy Bomber

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C-9 A Nightingale Air Ambulance

The C-9 Nightingale was designed as a dedicated medical evacuation transport. Developed from the DC-9-32 airliner, the C-9 first flew in 1967. The Nightingale was fully equipped to carry 40 litter patients, 40 ambulatory and four litter patients or various combinations. It was configured with special electrical, oxygen and ventilation systems, medical refrigeration and storage systems, 2 galleys and a central monitoring station for all patient areas. It was the only USAF aircraft specifically designed for the movement of litter and ambulatory patients. The Air Force no longer has a dedicated Aeromedical aircraft. The C-9 Nightingale’s last flight was in August 2003. This model shows a C-9 Nightingale Aeromedical evacuation plane during the mid 1970s.

McDonnell Douglas C-9 Nightingale Air Ambulance

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F-4 E Phantom II Fighter Bomber

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of the most successful postwar fighters ever built and was the second most produced American jet fighter to be built, outnumbered only by the North American F-86 Saber. Total US production was 5,057, with another 138 being built under license in Japan. The Phantom was in continuous production for 22 years from 1959 until 1981 and remains in service today with several countries around the world. The Phantom is a two seat, twin engine, all weather, long range supersonic jet interceptor / fighter bomber that was originally developed for the USN by McDonnell Aircraft. First flying in 1960 for the Navy, it was soon adopted by the USMC and USAF. The F-4 like other interceptors of its time was designed with an all missile armament, but later models incorporated a cannon. The Phantom was extensively by all 3 services during the Vietnam War as a fighter, attack and reconnaissance plane.  Replacing the F-105 Thunderchief as the primary ground attack plane in the Vietnam War, the F-4 flew thousands of attack mission and 761 were lost during the war, the majority to ground fire. Phantoms claimed 227 enemy aircraft destroyed. The F-4 E Phantom II was the first Phantom to carry an internal gun. During the Vietnam War, it was quickly realized that the major weakness of the F-4 was it’s lack of an internal gun. The first F-4 E was delivered to the Air Force in October 1967. The E model also incorporated an additional fuselage fuel tank, leading edge slats and an improved engine. In service with Israel, the Phantom claimed 116 air to air victories. The F-4 Phantom II served with the USAF, USMC, USN, The Blue Angels and The Thunderbirds acrobatic teams, Australia, Egypt, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Turkey. The F-4 E can carry 18,650 lbs of ordinance on 9 hard points and 4 AIM-7 Sparrows in fuselage recesses along with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon. This model shows a F-4 E Phantom II Spunky VI stationed at Korat AFB, Thailand in 1969. Also see the F-4 B Phantom II.

McDonnell Douglas F-4 E Phantom II Fighter Bomber

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F-5 E Tiger II Fighter Bomber

The F-5 E Tiger II is part of a family of aircraft that include the F-5 A/B Freedom Fighter, T-38 Talon, F-5 E Tiger II, RF-5 Tigereye, YF-17, F-18 and the F-20 Tigershark. The F-5 E Tiger II is a greatly improved version of the earlier F-5 A Freedom Fighter. The Freedom Fighter is primarily a ground attack plane with secondary air to air capability. First flying on August 11, 1972 the F-5 E was redesigned to give better air to air performance against aircraft like the Soviet MiG-21. The F-5 E became a highly maneuverable, lightweight and inexpensive air superiority fighter with more powerful engines, lengthened and enlarged fuselage increased wing area and more sophisticated electronics. 792 F-5 E, 140 F-5 F and 12 RF-5 E aircraft were built in the US and 91 F-5 E and F in Switzerland, 68 in South Korea and 308 in Taiwan. The Tiger II has been continuously upgraded and is still in service around the world today. The Northrop F-5 E Tiger II is armed with two 20 mm Pontiac M39A2 Revolver cannons, 2 AAM launch rails on the wing tips and can carry 7,000 lbs. of ordinance on 5 hard points under the wings. This model shows a F-5 E aggressor aircraft at the USAF Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB Nevada. Also see the T-38 Talon and the F-5 A Freedom Fighter and the F-5 group.

Northrop F-5 E Tiger Fighter Bomber

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F-15 A Eagle Air Superiority Fighter

The F-15 A Eagle was an all weather air superiority fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority. First flying in 1972, the Eagle began replacing existing USAF fighter planes in the air superiority role in 1976. The USAF called the F-15 "the first dedicated USAF air superiority fighter since the F-86 Saber.” 384 F-15 A Eagles were built. After over 30 years of service the F-15 A Eagle made it’s last flight on October 13, 2009. Later versions of the Eagle will be flying well into the 2020s. The design combined maneuverability, acceleration, range, weapons, advanced electronics and a thrust to weight ratio of over 1 to outperform all but the most recent fighter designs. The F-15 has been in combat many times in the Mideast and the Balkans and has achieved a kill ration of 195:0. There has never been a shoot down of an F-15. The Eagle is flown by Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the USAF. The F-15 A is armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling cannon and can carry the AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles in various combinations. This model shows a F-15 A Eagle in the experimental Air Superiority Blue color scheme in the early 1970s.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 A Eagle Air Superiority Fighter

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F-16 A Falcon Fighter Bomber

The General Dynamics F-16 Falcon was originally developed as a lightweight, daytime fighter and has evolved into multirole fighter aircraft. The Falcon is was designed as a dogfighter with many innovations including a frameless bubble canopy, side-mounted control stick, a seat reclined at 30 degrees and the first use of a relaxed static stability / fly-by-wire control system to drastically  increase maneuverability. It is built to sustain 9-g turns and has a thrust to weight ratio greater than one giving it enough power to climb and accelerate vertically. Production began in 1975 and continues today with many variants produced. 4,667 Falcons have been built since production began. The single seat F-16 A and two seat F-16 B were initial production variants. The F-16 Block 15 was the first major change to the F-16 with larger horizontal stabilizers and is the most numerous F-16 variant with 475 produced. The F-16 Falcon is flown by the USAF, USN, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Chile and Venezuela. The Falcon is armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon, 9 hard points carrying a 17,000 lbs of ordinance and 2 wingtip launch rails for AAMs. This model shows a USAF F-16 A block 15 #82-0977 from the 612th TFS in Europe during the late 1980s.

General Dynamics F-16 A Falcon Fighter

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F-80 C Shooting Star Fighter Bomber

The Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star was the first USAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, the first American jet airplane to be manufactured in large quantities and the first USAF jet to be used in combat. Designed in 1943, the XP-80 made its maiden flight on January 8, 1944. Several early P-80s were sent to Europe for demonstrations, but WWII ended before the aircraft could be used in combat. The aircraft was redesignated in 1948 when P for Pursuit was changed to F for Fighter. Of 1,731 F-80s built, 798 were F-80 Cs. Although designed as a high altitude interceptor, the F-80 C was used extensively as a fighter bomber in the Korean War. On November 8, 1950, an F-80 C flown by Lt. Russell J. Brown, flying with the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, shot down a Russian-built MiG-15 in the world's first all jet fighter air battle. The F-80 Shooting Star was armed with 6 .50 cal machineguns and could carry 8 unguided rockets and 2 1,000 lb bombs. The F-80 was developed into the T-33 trainer and the F-94 Starfire interceptor. The Shooting Star was flown by the USAF, USN, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. This model shows a F-80 C-10-LO Shooting Star flying with the 51st FIW, 25th FIS based at Kimpo Air Base in December 1950.

Lockheed F-80 C Fighter Bomber

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F-84 G Thunderjet Fighter Bomber

The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was the USAF's second successful full turbojet fighter. While it was designed to be an improvement over the F-80 Shooting Star, it was plagued by inadequate power from its turbojet engine and structural problems. First flying in 1946 and entering service in 1947, the Thunderjet was not considered fully operational until the 1949 F-84 D model and the design matured only with the definitive F-84 G introduced in 1951. The F-84 flew with the Strategic Air Command until 1957 and it served as the USAF’s primary fighter bomber during the Korean War, flying 86,408 missions and destroying 60% of all ground targets in the war as well as eight MiG fighters. F-84 G was the first fighter with built in aerial refueling capability and the first single seat aircraft capable of carrying a nuclear bomb. The F-84 was also the first aircraft to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The Thunderjet was also the basis of the F-84 F Thunderstreak. The F-84 was retired by the USAF in the mid 1960s although the Greek air force operated 3 F-84s until 1996. The Thunderjet was flown by Belgium, Republic of China, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The F-84 G was armed with 6 .50 cal machineguns and could carry 4,450 lbs of ordinance including 1 Mk.7 8-61 kiloton nuclear weapon. This model shows a F-84 G of the 53rd FBS, 36th FBW.

Republic F-84 G Fighter Bomber

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F-86 F Saber Fighter

First flying in October 1947 the North American F-86 Saber was one of the most produced Western cold war fighter jets with 9,860 being built in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy and Japan. Originally designed as a straight wing fighter, the Saber was redesigned using captured German data after WWII into a swept wing plane. Entering service in 1949 the Saber was rapidly introduced into squadron service. The F-86 scored consistent victories over Russian-built MiG-15 fighters during the Korean War, achieving a final kill ratio of 10-to-1. Of the 40 USAF pilots to earn the designation of ace during the Korean War, all but one flew the F-86 Saber. The Saber was initially armed with 6 .50 cal machine guns and later versions carried 20 mm cannons, air to air rockets and bombs. The Saber was used by Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Burma, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. The Saber has fought in the Korean War, the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. This model shows the “Huff” F-86 F flown by Ace Lt. Jim Thompson in the Korean War. Also see the F-86 D, F-100 D and the FJ-4B (AF-1 E) Fury and the Sabers group page.

North American F-86 F Saber Fighter

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F-86 D Saber Interceptor

First flying in October 1947 the North American F-86 Saber was one of the most produced Western cold war fighter jets with 9,860 being built in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy and Japan. Originally designed as a straight wing fighter, the Saber was redesigned using captured German data after WWII into a swept wing plane. Entering service in 1949 the Saber was rapidly introduced into squadron service. The F-86 scored consistent victories over Russian-built MiG-15 fighters during the Korean War, achieving a final kill ratio of 10-to-1. Of the 40 USAF pilots to earn the designation of ace during the Korean War, all but one flew the F-86 Saber. The Saber was initially armed with 6 .50 cal machine guns.  The final large-scale production model of the Saber was the F-86 D Saber Dog. Based on the F-86 day fighter, the D model was designed as an all weather interceptor. Originally designated YF-95 A, the F-86 D incorporated a number of design changes that altered both its performance and its appearance. Gun armament was eliminated in favor of a retractable under-fuselage tray carrying 24 2.75 in Mighty Mouse FFAR (Fin Folding Aerial Rockets). The fuselage was wider and the airframe length increased to 40 ft 4 in, with a clamshell canopy, enlarged tail surfaces, and AN/APG-36 all weather radar fitted in a radome in the nose, above the intake. Range dropped dramatically, however, to only 836 mi, only slightly more than the original A model. The F-86 D Saber Dog was flown by the USAF, Royal Danish Air Force, French Air Force, Luftwaffe, Greek Air Force, Honduran Air Force, Italian Air Force, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Royal Norwegian Air Force, Philippine Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Turkish Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force, Venezuelan Air Force and SFR Yugoslav Air Force. Also see the F-86 F, F-100 D and the FJ-4B (AF-1 E) Fury and the Sabers group page.

North American F-86 D Saber Interceptor

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F-100 D Super Saber Fighter Bomber

Developed as a follow on to the F-86 Saber, the F-100 Super Saber was the world's first production airplane capable of flying faster than the speed of sound in level flight. First flying on May 25, 1953, the Super Saber had a production run of 2,294 before production ended in 1959. Originally designed as a pure fighter plane the F-100 was modified into a fighter bomber. During the Vietnam War the F-100 was used extensively as a fighter bomber in ground attack missions. By war's end, 242 F-100 Super Sabers had been lost in Vietnam, while flying 360,283 combat sorties. The Super Saber retired from USAF service in 1979 and with the Royal Danish Air Force and the Turkish Air Force in 1982. The F-100 was flown by the USAF, USAF Thunderbirds, Republic Of China Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force, Turkish Air Force and French Air Force. The F-100 Super Saber was armed with 4 20 mm Pontiac M39A1 revolver cannons and 7 hard points capable of carrying 7,040 lbs of ordinance. This model shows a F-100 D Super Saber of the 474th FBW, 429th FBS at Clovis AFB, NM in 1957. Also see the F-86 F, F-86 D, the FJ-4B (AF-1 E) Fury and the Sabers group page.

North American F-100 D Super Saber Fighter Bomber

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F-105 D Thunderchief Fighter Bomber

The Republic F-105 Thunderchief was a supersonic USAF fighter bomber. The original design was tailored towards high speed low altitude penetration while carrying a nuclear weapon internally. First flown in 1955, the Thunderchief entered service in 1958. The F-105 was the largest single engine fighter ever used by the Air Force and carried a larger bomb load than either the WWII B-17 or B-24. It became famous as the primary strike aircraft used over North Vietnam in the early days of the Vietnam War. More than 20,000 sorties were flown and 382 aircraft were lost. Although it was designed as a bomber, the Thunderchief also shot down 27.5 enemy aircraft. The F-105 was capable of exceeding Mach 1 at sea level and Mach 2 at high altitude. It was withdrawn from service in Vietnam at the end of 1970 making it the only US aircraft to have ever been removed from combat due to high attrition rates. A Wild Weasel version of the Thunderchief was developed to attack enemy antiaircraft units and served until 1980. The F-105 D could carry over 14,000 pounds of ordnance on 5 hard points and carried 1 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon.

Republic F-105 D Thunderchief Fighter Bomber

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F-106 A Delta Dart Interceptor

The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was an all weather interceptor that was developed from the F-102 Delta Dagger. Originally designated the F-102 B, it was redesignated as the F-106 because it had extensive structural changes and a more powerful engine. The first F-106 A flew on December 26, 1956 and deliveries began in July 1959. Production ended in late 1960 after 277 F-106 As and 63 F-106 Bs had been built. The F-106 was the primary USAF interceptor from the early 1960s till it’s retirement in 1988 and is the last interceptor flown by the USAF. One of the most unique features of the Delta Dart was its Hughes MA-1 electronic guidance and fire control system. After takeoff, the MA-1 can be given control of the aircraft to fly it to the proper altitude and attack position. Then it can fire the Genie and Falcon missiles, break off the attack run and return the aircraft to the vicinity of its base. The pilot takes control again for the landing. In fact the F-106 was so automated that one aircraft actually landed itself in a field with only minor damage after the pilot ejected. The F-106 Delta Dart wad armed with four AIM-4 Falcon air to air missiles, one GAR-11/AIM-26A Falcon missile with a W54 250 ton warhead or a 1.5 kiloton W25 warhead AIR-2 (MB-2) Genie air to air rocket and a 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon. This model shows a F-106 A Delta Dart with the 84th FIS flying out of Hamilton AFB, CA in the early 1970s.

Convair F-106 Delta Dart Interceptor

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F-111 A Aardvark Bomber

The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark was a supersonic tactical bomber with the ability to fly at Mach 1.2 at seal level and Mach 2.5 at altitude. First flying in December 1964, the F-111 was initially plagued by several design problems that caused a series of crashes. The problems were soon corrected by NASA, General Dynamics and the Air Force. The F-111 Aardvark was a pioneer for several military aircraft technologies including variable geometry wings, afterburning turbofan engines, crew escape pod and terrain following radar for low level high speed flight. The Aardvark was committed to the Vietnam War flying missions into North Vietnam on a regular basis during Operation Linebacker and Operation Linebacker II. Over 4,000 combat F-111 A missions were flown over Vietnam with only six combat losses. Development of the F-111 continued with several upgraded versions produced including a strategic bomber and an electronic warfare plane. The F-111 had a top speed of over Mach 2.5 a range of 3565 miles and could carry 25,000 lbs of weapons on the wings and 4,000 lbs in it’s internal bomb bay. 563 F-111s were built. The F-111 is no longer operated by the USAF and is has recently retired from the Australian Air Force. This model shows a F-111 in Vietnam in 1972.

General Dynamics F-111 A Fighter Bomber

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O-2 B Skymaster Psychological Warfare Plane

The Cessna O-2 is a military version of the Cessna Model 337 Super Skymaster. Identifiable by its twin tail booms and tandem mounted engines, it features a tractor-pusher propeller arrangement. In late 1966, the USAF selected a military variant to supplement the existing forward air controller aircraft operating in Vietnam. Twin engines enabled the O-2 to absorb more ground fire and still return safely. The O-2 first flew in Jan 1967 and production deliveries began in March. Production ended in June 1970 after 532 O-2s had been built for the USAF. The O-2 A was equipped with wing pylons to carry rockets, flares, and other light ordnance. The O-2 B was a psychological warfare aircraft equipped with loudspeakers and leaflet dispensers.

Cessna O-2 B Skymaster Psychological Warfare Plane

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SR-71 A Blackbird Reconnaissance Plane

The Lockheed SR-71, unofficially known as the Blackbird, was a long range, highly advanced strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12 aircraft. The SR-71 first flew on December 22, 1964 and entered service in January 1966. Although the official speed of the Blackbird is listed only as Mach 3+, unclassified tests have shown that the plane was capable of at least Mach 3.6. Since 1976 it has held the world record for the fastest air breathing manned aircraft. On July 28, 1976, an SR-71 set two world records for its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.167 miles per hour and an absolute altitude record of 85,068.997 feet. The SR-71 flew so fast that special high temperature materials were needed and the airframe of the Blackbird was made of 85% titanium. In one of the stranger twists of the Cold War, the CIA and Lockheed obtained the titanium from the USSR using many different cover stories to prevent the Soviet government from knowing what the titanium was to be used for. Studies of the aircraft's titanium skin later showed that the metal was actually getting stronger over time because of intense heating due to compression of the air caused by the plane’s high speed. Although the Blackbird was the first operational aircraft designed around a stealthy shape and materials, it was far from invisible. As time went on the SR-71 was increasingly visible to radar and had a huge infrared signature. It was visible on air traffic control radar for hundreds of miles. However in spite of this and despite over 4,000 missiles fired at them, not one SR-71 was ever shot down. The usual defense against attack was to simply accelerate. From 80,000 feet it could survey 100,000 square miles of Earth's surface per hour. The USAF retired the Blackbird in October 1989; however Congress forced the reinstatement of the plane in 1995. The USAF finally got their way in 1998 and the last SR-71 Blackbird flight was on October 9, 1999. When the SR-71 was first retired, one Blackbird was flown from Palmdale, California to Virginia. During that flight the Blackbird set 4 new speed records even though the pilots were ordered to “fly a standard mission”. The US no longer has any aircraft in service that comes anywhere close to the performance of the SR-71. This model shows a SR-71 A of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB. This plane is currently on display at the March Field Museum, March AFB, CA.

The Lockheed D-21 reconnaissance drone was developed in 1962 due to the agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States restricting the use of manned vehicles over the Soviet Union. The D-21 was carried by a SR-71 Blackbird and was released at high speed. It was designed fly over it’s target area and eject the reconnaissance data pack self destructing. 38 drones were built and 21 were used.

Lockheed SR-71 Reconnaissance Plane

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T-38 A Talon Trainer

The Northrop T-38 Talon is a supersonic jet trainer for military pilots and NASA astronauts. First flying in 1959 the T-38 entered service in 1961 becoming the world's first supersonic trainer. The T-38 Talon is part of a family of aircraft that include the F-5 A/B Freedom Fighter, F-5E Tiger II, F-5 E Tiger II, RF-5 Tigereye, YF-17, F-18 and the F-20 Tigershark. Production of the T-38 Talon ended in 1972 with 1,187 being built. Since its introduction it is estimated that over 50,000 military pilots have trained on this aircraft. The US Air Force Thunderbirds flew the T-38 from 1974 to 1983. The Talon remains one of the very few supersonic trainers in the world. The T-38 is used by the USAF, USN, NASA, Germany, Republic Of Korea, Portugal, Taiwan, Turkey and a very few civilian users. This model shows a T-38 Talon flying with the USAF Thunderbirds acrobatic team in 1976.  Also see the F-5 E Tiger and the F-5 A Freedom Fighter and the F-5 group.

Northrop T-38 Talon Trainer - Thunderbirds Team

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Titan II ICBM

The SM-68C Titan II missile was an ICBM  developed from the Titan I ICBM in the early 1960s. The first launch of a Titan II was in December 1961 and the Titan went into service in 1963.  The Titan II used storable liquid propellants and could be launched  within 60 seconds directly from its silo. The Titan II had a range of  9,325 miles and was armed with one W-53 9 megaton nuclear warhead in a  Mark 6 reentry vehicle. The Titan II served from 1963 to 1986. The Titan II was also used as a highly successful space launcher, carrying the  Gemini spacecraft. It was also developed into many different variants  for space launches. After the Titan II fleet was retired many were  refurbished and turned into space launchers. The last Titan II space  launch was in 2003.

Titan II ICBM

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C-135 B Stratolifter

The C-135 Stratolifter was developed from the early 1950s Boeing 367-80 airliner prototype which was also the basis of the 707 passenger jet. Compared to the 707, the C-135 is a bit narrower and shorter. First flying in August 1956, the basic C-135 has been converted to over 30 different version including tankers, airborne command posts, electronic warfare platforms, reconnaissance planes, weather observation planes and an airborne laser system. The majority of C-135s were built as KC-135 tankers. The original C-135 A was powered by Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets. The C-135 B featured TF33 turbofans and wide span tail plane. It could carry up to 126 troops, 44 stretchers or cargo. The C-135 has flown with Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and Venezuela. This model shows a C-135 B flying with the Military Airlift Command in the late 1960s. This aircraft was later converted to a RC-135. Also see the 707-321.

C-135 B Stratolifter

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F-104 A Starfighter

The F-104 Starfighter was developed as a result of combat experience during the Korean War. In December 1951 Clarence "Kelly" Johnson visited Korea and interviewed pilots about what sort of aircraft they needed. The pilots wanted a small, simple aircraft with very high performance. Johnson's team began working on the new design in March 1952. The basic idea was to build the smallest possible airframe around the largest available engine. The prototype flew on March 4, 1953 and after several modifications entered service in January 1958. The F-104 was a radical design for the time. It featured a very small, straight, mid-mounted, trapezoidal wing. The wing design was extremely thin with a leading edge only 0.016 in thick that required protective guards on the ground to prevent ground crews from being cut by them. They wings also leading and trailing edge flaps with a boundary layer control system to landings safer. The stabilator was mounted atop the fin to reduce inertia coupling. Because the vertical fin was only slightly shorter than the length of each wing and nearly as aerodynamically effective, it could act as a wing on rudder application, rolling the aircraft in the opposite direction of rudder input. The resulting design allowed a maximum speed well in excess of Mach 2. The top speed of the Starfighter was actually limited by the aluminum airframe and the temperature limits of the engine compressor. The Starfighter was continuously upgraded over its lifetime and its role changed from an interceptor to a fighter bomber. The F-104 Starfighter flew with the USAF until 1975. NASA flew several for testing until 1994. The operational service of the Starfighter ended with its retirement by the Italian Air Force in May 2004. A total of 2,578 Starfighters were produced, mostly under license by NATO members. The most produced version was the F-104 G. 153 F-104 A Starfighters were produced. The F-104 A Starfighter was armed with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan canon. Either two AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs or fuel tanks could be carried on the wing tips. The F-104 was flown by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of China, Spain, Turkey and the US. This model shows a F-104 A Starfighter with the 151st FIS of the Tennessee Air National Guard flying out of O’Hare Field in 1961. Also see the German Navy F-104.

F-104 A Starfighter

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B-57 B Canberra Medium Bomber

The Martin B-57 Canberra was derived from the British English Electric Canberra. When the Korean War began the USAF found itself in dire need of a jet powered tactical bomber. The existing stocks of B-26 Invaders were running low and it's performance was no longer adequate for front line service. On September 16, 1950 the USAF requested bids for a new jet powered tactical bomber. To save time only existing designs were considered. The US XB-51, B-45 Tornado and AJ Savage were deemed to have inadequate performance for the role as was the Canadian CF-100. On February 21, 1951, a British Canberra B.2 became the first jet to make a nonstop unrefueled flight across the Atlantic Ocean for evaluation against the XB-51. The Canberra emerged the clear winner. At the time the English Electric production lines were at capacity filling orders for the RAF so Martin Aviation was granted a license to build the Canberra for the USAF. The first version produced, the B-57 A, was not quite up to specs and was used for testing and development. First flying on June 18, 1954, the B-57 B introduced many changes and is considered the definitive version of the Canberra. The cockpit was moved to the center line and changed to a two seat configuration with a bubble canopy. The engines were changed and uprated, the air brakes moved to the side of the fuselage, the controls were boosted, four hard points were added under the wings and eight 0.50 cal. Browning machine guns were added to the wings (later replaced by four 20 mm M39 cannons). Wingtip fuel tanks were added, engine nacelles were modified with additional cooling scoops and the bomb bay was changed to a low drag rotating door originally designed for the XB-51. The Canberra was initially deployed as a night intruder in Europe. It entered combat in Vietnam in August 1964 were it usually performed bombing, night intruder, ground attack and dive bombing missions. They were especially effective at attacking trucks along the Ho Chi Min trail due to their large weapons load and four hour loiter time. The Canberra was modified into a large number of platforms over the years including reconnaissance, weather tracking, target tug, electronic warfare and high altitude strategic reconnaissance. 403 Canberras were built. The B-57 B Canberra was armed with four 20 mm M39 cannons and could carry 4,500 lbs. Of bomber in the bomb bay and 2,800 lbs. on four external hard points. The Canberra left USAF service in 1983 marking the end of the era of the tactical bomber that began with the WWI De Havilland DH-4. Three WB-57 Fs are still flying with NASA as research planes. This model shows a B-57 B night intruder flying with the 245th Bomb Group, 499th “Bats Outa Hell” Bomb Squadron at Langley AFB Virginia in early 1959.

B-57 B Canberra Medium Bomber

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SM-65 Atlas E ICBM

Research on what would become the SM-65 Atlas was begun in 1947 and low priority development began in 1951. The 1953 Soviet H-Bomb test caused the priority of the Atlas program to be raised and by 1954 it had the highest priority of any weapons program. The first successful Atlas launch was on November 28, 1958. The Atlas was a unique stage and a half design. At launch both engines fired and were fed from a single set of propellant tanks. One engine was jettisoned about 135 seconds into the flight (the half stage). The booster engine consisted of two large thrust chambers fed by a single common set of turbopumps. The sustainer engine consisted of a single large thrust chamber and two small Vernier rockets also fed by a single common set of turbopumps. The Verniers were for roll control and final velocity trim. They also gave the Atlas a unique look when firing. Atlas also used an unusual balloon fuel tank made from very thin stainless steel. With very little in the way of support structure the tanks had to be kept pressurized at all times to prevent collapse. WD-40 was developed as an anti-corrosion spray for the Atlas tanks. The Atlas went through several models before becoming operational as an ICBM. The A model was a test version, the B and C models were further models to verify all of its systems. In December 1958 a B model was used to launch the SCORE satellite. This was the first of many space launches for the Atlas. The D model was the first operational ICBM and entered service in 1959. The last models, introduced in 1960, the E & F, were further improved ICBMs with better electronics and improved warheads. The D & E models were stored horizontally above ground in large concrete coffin structures. They were elevated prior to launch and fueling. The F model was stored vertically underground and raised above ground for launch. Atlas ICBMs were deployed from October 31, 1959 to April 12, 1965. Many of the retired Atlas ICBMs would be used as space launchers, notably for four Project Mercury flights. Atlas became the foundation for a whole family of successful space launch vehicles including the Atlas Agena and Atlas Centaur. The SM-65 Atlas E was armed with a W-38 thermonuclear warhead with a yield of 3.75 megatons and was fused for either an air burst or a contact burst. It was carried in an AVCO Mk 4 reentry vehicle which also contained penetration aids in the form of Mylar balloons. This model shows a SM-65 Atlas E during the early 1960s.

SM-65 Atlas E ICBM

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SM-62 Snark Cruise Missile

Development of the SM-62 Snark began shortly after the end of WWII. Inspired by the V-1 flying bomb, the USAF wanted a long range weapon capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. Development proceeded very slowly due to technical problems, USAF requirement changes and budget constraints. By 1957 the Snark had achieved a CEP of about 4 nautical miles. However reliability was still a major problem. Over half of the test launches resulted in some kind of failure. Multiple launch failures led to the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Canaveral's being described as Snark infested waters. Nevertheless, in January 1958 the Strategic Air Command began accepting delivery of Snark missiles at Patrick Air Force Base for training and in 1959 the 702nd Strategic Missile Wing was formed. On May 27, 1959 the Presque Isle Air Force Base in Maine received its first missile. On March 18, 1960 the Snark missile went on alert status. 30 Snarks were deployed. In March 1961 the Snark was declared to be obsolete and of marginal military value. The Snark was deactivated on June 25, 1961. Despite its problems, the Snark (when it worked) did have did have some impressive capabilities. The Snark was an air breathing design launched from a light platform by two rocket booster engines. It switched to an internal J57 jet engine for the rest of its flight. The top speed was 650 mph with a range of 5,000 nautical miles. During the final phase of flight the nuclear warhead separated from the missile body and followed a ballistic trajectory to the target. After separation the missile body performed an abrupt pitch-up maneuver to avoid colliding with the warhead. The Snark could fly for up to 11 hours and return for a landing. If the warhead did not detach it could be flown again. Since it had no landing gear, the Snark to skid to a stop on a flat level surface. The runway at Cape Canaveral is still known as the Skid Strip. The SM-62 Snark was armed with a 3.8 megaton W38 thermonuclear warhead. This model shows a SM-62 Snark with the 702nd Strategic Missile Wing in late 1960.

SM-62 Snark Cruise Missile

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A-10 A Thunderbolt II Attack Plane

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II was created as a result of criticism that the U.S. Air Force did not take close air support seriously. This forced the Air Force to begin the design process for a new dedicated ground attack plane. The war in Viet Nam showed that the fast jets like the F-4 Phantom II, F-105 Thunderchief and F-100 Super Saber, that the Air Force preferred to use for ground attack were generally ineffective due to their high speed and short loiter time. The Korean War era A-1 Skyraider was the USAF's only really effective close air support aircraft and it was aging and long out of production. US Army helicopters like the UH-1 Iroquois and AH-1 Cobra were poorly suited for use against armor, usually carrying only machine guns and unguided rockets meant for soft targets. By 1967 the Air Force began to study requirements for the new plane. Discussions with Skyraider pilots and analysis of aircraft used in the role showed that the perfect aircraft should have long loiter time, good low speed maneuverability, massive cannon firepower and extreme survivability. Basically a combination of all of the best features of Ilyushin IL-2, Henschel Hs-129 and A-1 Skyraider. Hans-Ulrich Rudel was also brought in to consult on the design. By 1970 the threat of Soviet armored forces had become more serious and a 30 mm rotary cannon was added to the design. Two YA-10 prototypes first flew on May 10, 1972. After trials and a fly off against the YA-9, the A-10 entered production and the first production A-10 flew in October 1975 with deliveries beginning in March 1976. Officially the A-10 is known as the Thunderbolt II however it is almost universally called the Warthog or Hog.

 

The large high aspect wing of the A-10 gives good maneuverability at low speeds and low altitude and short takeoff and landing from unimproved forward airfields. Honeycomb structure in the leading edge of the wing, flap shrouds, elevators, rudders and sections of the fins provide higher resistance to combat damage. The A-10 is designed to survive direct hits from armor piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. It has a double redundant hydraulic flight system with a mechanical system as a backup. It is controllable enough with the manual system to return to base and is designed to fly with one engine, one half of the tail, one elevator and half of a wing missing. The A-10 protected by 1,200 lbs. of titanium armor which was tested against 23 mm and 57 mm rounds. The front windscreen and canopy are resistant to small arms fire. The engines are high mounted to allow the plane to operate from unimproved air strips and to reduce infrared signature. The wheels of the main landing gear partially protrude from their nacelles when retracted making gear-up belly landings easier to control and less damaging. All landing gears are hinged toward the aircraft's rear so that if hydraulic power is lost gravity and wind resistance can open and lock the gear in place. The entire aircraft was designed around its main armament, the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. The front landing gear is offset to the right to allow the cannon firing barrel to be along the centerline of the aircraft. The GAU-8/A Avenger cannon is one of the most powerful aircraft cannon ever flown. It fires depleted uranium armor piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. The gun is accurate enough to place 80 percent of its shots within a 40 foot circle from 4,000 feet. The A-10 carries 1,350 rounds of 30 mm ammunition. The gun and ammunition drum are also armor protected.

 

The A-10 first saw combat in the Gulf War where it destroyed over 900 tanks, 2,000 other military vehicles and 1,200 artillery pieces. A-10s also shot down two helicopters with the GAU-8 cannon. The A-10 had a mission capable rate of 95.7 percent, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90 percent of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the war. It has also fought in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. 715 A-10s were produced with the last delivered in 1984. In spite of the success of the A-10 the Air Force has never really wanted it. Most pilots switching to the A-10 did not want to. Almost since its introduction the Air Force has tried to get rid of the plane. However, Congress has refused to let them get rid of the only effective attack plane in the US inventory.

 

The A-10 has a top speed of 439 mph and a fully loaded combat range of 290 miles. It has 11 hard points that can carry 16,000 lbs of weapons including rocket pods, AIM-9 Sidewinders, AGM-65 Mavericks, Mark 80 series bombs, Mk 77 napalm bombs, Rockeye cluster bombs, Paveway Laser guided bombs, JDAM guided bombs, decoys and chaff dispensers, ECM pods, Sniper XR and LITENING targeting pods and 600 gallon drop tanks. This model shows a A-10 A Warthog in mid 1984 stationed in western Europe.

A-10 A Warthog Attack Plane

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A-26 B Invader Attack Plane

First flying on July 10, 1042 the A-26 Invader is a twin engine light bomber and ground attack plane the served around the world until 1980. The A-26 was originally built in two different configurations. The B model had a gun nose and the C model had a bombardier nose for medium altitude precision bombing. The different nose sections could easily be swapped out for different missions. This also officially changed the model. Deliveries of the A-26 B began in August 1943 with the new bomber first seeing action with the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific Theater on June 23, 1944 near the Manokwari islands. A-26s began arriving in Europe in late September 1944 for assignment to the Ninth Air Force with the first mission being flown on September 6, 1944. The Invader was used for bombing, strafing, tactical reconnaissance and night interdiction missions. By 1945, 9th AF A-26s had flown 11,567 missions, dropping 18,054 tons of bombs, recording seven confirmed kills while losing 67 aircraft. The Twelfth Air Force's 47th Bomb Group in Italy received the A-26 in January 1945. They were used against German transport links, but also for direct support and interdiction against tanks and troop concentrations in the Po valley. After WWII the US Air Force operated the A-26 with SAC through 1950, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe until 1957, the Tactical Air Command through the late 1960s. The U.S. Navy also used a small number of Invaders for target towing and general utility. It was also used by the CIA for covert operations. A-26 Invaders of the 3d Bombardment Group based in southern Japan were some of the first USAF aircraft to fight in the Korean War on June 27 and 28, 1950. In August 1950 Air Force reserve squadrons began arriving in the theater. The 452d Bombardment Wing (3rd Bomb Wing, 8th, 13th and 90th Bomb Squadrons) began flying night missions. The 452nd flew 15,000 sorties (7000 at night) with a loss of 85 crewmen. B-26 invaders destroyed 38,500 vehicles, 406 locomotives, 3,700 railway trucks and seven enemy aircraft on the ground. On September 14, 1951, Captain John S. Walmsley, Jr. attacked a supply train. When his guns jammed, he light up the target with his searchlight to enable his wingmen to destroy the train. Walmsley was shot down and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Invaders also carried out the last USAF bombing mission of the war 24 minutes before the Armistice Agreement was signed on June 27, 1953. The last A-26 in U.S. service was assigned to the Air National Guard and was retired in 1972 by the U.S. Air Force and the National Guard Bureau and donated to the National Air and Space Museum. The first A-26 Invaders arrived in Southeast Asia at Takhli RTAFB, Thailand in December 1960. They were unmarked and eventually the CIA was flying 12 A-26 Bs and A-26 Cs and four RB-26 Cs. Later the planes were operated with South Vietnamese markings in South Vietnam under Project Farm Gate. The A-26s were withdrawn from service in February 1964 after two accidents related to wing spar fatigue. Because of this On Mark Engineering began to extensively upgrade the Invader for counterinsurgency missions. The A-26 K first flew on May 30, 1964. On Mark converted 40 Invaders to the new B-26K Counter Invader standard Upgraded included upgraded engines, propellers, brakes, re-manufactured wings and wing tip fuel tanks. They were deployed in Thailand to attack the Ho Chi Minh trail. On April 15, 1961 Cuban exiles flew eight A-26s of the FAL (Fuerza Aérea de Liberación) to attack three Cuban airfields. On April 17, 1961 they flew in support of Bay of Pigs Invasion. CIA pilots also flew A-26Ks for ground attack against Simba rebels in the Congo. In the 1950s the French Air Force's used the Invader during the First Indochina War. Indonesia bought six Invaders to operate against rebels. These planes would serve until 1976. The Invader was also used as a fire bomber and many were converted to executive transports. The A-26 Invader could be armed with:

Six to eight .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in the C model or two .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in the B model.
Up to 8 .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in under wing pods: or six .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in the wings.
Two .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in the remote controlled ventral turret.
Two .50 cal. M2 Browning machine guns in the remote controlled dorsal turret.
Ten 5-inch HVAR rockets.
4,000 lbs. of bombs in the bomb bay and 2,000 lbs. of bombs on underwing hard points.
2,452 A-26 Invaders were built.

This model shows the A-26 B-61-DL, AF Ser. No. 44-34517 "Monie" of the 37th BS, 17th BG flown by 1st Lt Robert Mikesh, Pusan AB, Korea 1952.

A-26 B Invader Attack Plane

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HH-3 E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter

The HH-3 E Jolly Green Giant is a twin engine heavy-lift helicopter. Its primary missions are search and rescue and combat and special operations. The Jolly Green Giant was developed from the USAF CH-3 E which was in turn developed from the USN S-61 amphibious transport helicopter. he HH-3 features titanium armor, jettisonable external fuel tanks, internal self sealing fuel tanks, a retractable in-flight refueling probe, two 7.62 mm machine guns, a forest penetrator and a high speed rescue hoist. It also has a hydraulically operated rear ramp and a jettisonable sliding door on the starboard side at the front of the cabin. The Jolly Green Giant was the first air to air refuelable helicopter. In 1967 two aerial refueled HH-3 Es set the long distance record for helicopters by flying nonstop from New York to Paris, France. The HH-3 E deployed to Vietnam in 1967, operating out of Udorn, Thailand and Da Nang, South Vietnam, it could reach any point in North Vietnam. During the Vietnam War HH-3 crewmen were awarded one Medal of Honor, twenty four Air Force Crosses and 190 Silver Stars. It was also used in the Son Tay prison camp rescue in 1970. The Jolly Green Giant was used extensively in Operation Desert Storm and flew rescue support for the early space shuttle missions. The USAF retired the last HH-3s in 1995. This model shows a HH-3 E Jolly Green Giant flying in Europe in the mid 1980s.

HH-3 E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter

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F-89 J Scorpion Fighter

The F-89 Scorpion was designed as a result of a 1945 United States Army Air Forces request for designs for a new night fighter to replace the P-61 Black Widow. The initial design was not satisfactory and the plane was completely redesigned. In August 1948 the first prototype of the newly designated XF-89 Scorpion made it's first flight. Testing and further design changes continued until early 1950. The first production F-89 A flew in September 1950. It carried an AN/APG-33 radar and was armed with six 20 mm T-31 cannons. Large 300 gal. fuel tanks were permanently fitted to the wingtips. It could also carry sixteen 5 in. rockets. 18 F-89 As were produced and they were mainly used for tests and further trials. They were then upgrade to F-89 B standard with new avionics and entered service in June 1951. There were problems with the engines and structural problems with the wings. The entire fleet of F-89s was grounded for repairs. F-89D was the primary production model that finally fixed all the problems with prior versions. It first flew on October 23, 1951 and entered service in 1954. The D model added a Hughes E-6 fire control system with AN/APG-40 radar and an AN/APA-84 computer in place of the cannons. The wingtip fuel tanks were replace with a combination fuel tank / rocket pod. Each pod carried fifty two 2.75 in. Mighty Mouse FFAR rockets. 682 F-89 Ds were produced. The H model added new radar systems, reduced the Mighty Mouse rockets to 21 in each pod and added three GAR-1 Falcon missiles to each pod. The final F-89 version was the J model. It was based on the D model but reverted back to fuel tanks only on the wingtips and added a hard point under each wing for a MB-1 Genie nuclear rocket and could also carry four GAR-1 Falcon air to air missiles. Many F-89Js continued to fly with the D model fuel tank / rocket pods on the wing tips along the Genie rockets. The F-89J was the first and only aircraft to fire a live Genie rocket during the John Shot of Operation Plumbbob on July 19, 1957. 350 D model were converted to Js. They served with the Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command, through 1959 and the Air National Guard through 1969. The F-89 J was used extensively in the Semi Automatic Ground Environment air defense system. A total of 1,050 Scorpions of all variants were produced and many are preserved as monuments today. This model shows a F-89 J Scorpion with D wing pods and Genie missiles from the Northeast Air Command during the 1955 Yuma gunnery meet.

F-89 J Scorpion Fighter

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